While making a special charity appearance at Boston Children's Hospital on Friday, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees told television station WBZ-TV he still has quite a few years of football left in him. Specifically, enough to play until the age of 45. He's 41 at the moment.
"I think, for me, it's not a matter of whether I can still play the game — definitely feel like I can still play the game," said Brees. "I could play it for quite a bit longer if I really wanted to."
The key word there is "if".
On the surface, it seems Brees is in the prime of his career, something not often said of athletes in any sport in their 40s. In fact, last season, Brees threw for the highest quarterback rating of his career, a 116.3, even as he missed five early games due to a hand injury. In Week 15 against the Indianapolis Colts, Brees was nearly flawless, completing 29-of-30 passes for 307 yards and four touchdowns in the same game where he broke Peyton Manning's record for career touchdown passes.
Coincidentally, 2019 was also the season where we realized that no players are immortal, and Brees needs to look no further than the closest competition for many of his records.
Tom Brady once said that he planned on playing until the age of 45 - perhaps even 50 - and last season, he finally learned how hard that would be in practice. Not only did his offense fail him for much of the season, but for the first time in over a decade, his body failed him. Though they never sidelined him, Brady's shoulder problems nagged him throughout the middle of the season, hampering his performance and unexpectedly landing him on the injury report.
Though Brees hasn't said it out loud, there's a chance he took notice of Brady's underwhelming 2019 season and saw a glimpse of what could happen to himself in the near future. After all, Brees is only two years younger.
However, unlike Brady, arguably the most accomplished quarterback in terms of championship honors, Brees can't be wholly satisfied with the way his career has turned out. Despite his individual records and three painful near-misses in the last few years, Brees' only Super Bowl came a decade ago. This makes the recent retirement rumors all the more surprising.
But if anyone knows what Drew Brees is capable of, it's Drew Brees. And if recent statements are anything to go by, next season - or perhaps the season after - may be his last chance to win a second Super Bowl for the Saints with Brees under center.